Why Our Favorite Crops Live Fast and Die Young

Why Our Favorite Crops Live Fast and Die Young

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We mostly grow annual plants because they reliably produce energy-rich seeds, which we like to eat.

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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Annual: a plant that typically lives for a year or less
Biennial: a plant that typically lives for two years
Perennial: a plant that typically lives for multiple years

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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Script Editor: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Illustrators: Bruno van Wayenburg and Ever Salazar
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Emily Elert (@eelert)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Kate Yoshida, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:


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Crews, T. Personal Communication, Dec 2017.

Crews, T. E., & DeHaan, L. R. (2015). The strong perennial vision: A response. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 39(5), 500-515.

Friedman, J., & Rubin, M. J. (2015). All in good time: understanding annual and perennial strategies in plants. American journal of botany, 102(4), 497-499.

Denison, R.F. Personal Communication, Nov 2017.

Milla, R. Personal Communication, Dec 2017.

Pimentel, D., et al. (2012). Annual vs. perennial grain production. Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, 161, 1-9.

Rees, M., & Long, M. J. (1992). Germination biology and the ecology of annual plants. The American Naturalist, 139(3), 484-508.

Reich, P. B. (2014). The world‐wide ‘fast–slow’plant economics spectrum: a traits manifesto. Journal of Ecology, 102(2), 275-301.

Smaje, C. (2015). The strong perennial vision: A critical review. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 39(5), 471-499.

Van Tassel, D. L., DeHaan, L. R., & Cox, T. S. (2010). Missing domesticated plant forms: can artificial selection fill the gap?. Evolutionary Applications, 3(5‐6), 434-452.

Vico, G. Personal Communication, Nov 2017.

Vico, G., et al. (2016). Trade‐offs between seed output and life span–a quantitative comparison of traits between annual and perennial congeneric species. New Phytologist, 209(1), 104-114.

Westoby, M. Personal Communication, Nov 2017.

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